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Questioning the medical conference

Stanford's John Ioannidis, MD, has penned a commentary on the usefulness of medical conferences, and his piece is the focus of a Common Health entry this afternoon. Carey Goldberg writes:

After many years of questioning assumptions and seeking harder data on everything from surgery customs to drug studies, Dr. Ioannidis is now taking on a major cultural institution of medicine: The conference. (Some might call it “the boondoggle, junket, fuel-wasting, resume-padding, often-not-peer-reviewed conference.”) This latest target is particularly striking given that [a previous] Atlantic piece says that “His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences.”

Goldberg goes on to quote Ioannidis, director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, whose commentary appears in the current issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association:

Do medical conferences serve any purpose? In theory, these meetings aim to disseminate and advance research, train, educate, and set evidence-based policy. Although these are worthy goals, there is virtually no evidence supporting the utility of most conferences. Conversely, some accumulating evidence suggests that medical congresses may serve a specific system of questionable values that may be harmful to medicine and health care.


Eventually, some evidence should be accrued on whether specific types of current conferences offer advantages compared with other means of serving the same needs, including social networking tools, remote conferencing, and re-purposed meetings...

Previously: John Ioannidis, MD: Research’s researcher and The Atlantic profiles Stanford’s John Ioannidis, “one of the most influential scientists alive”

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